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Cape to Cape 2014 Stage 4

11 Nov

We awoke on Day 4 knowing that this was the last big effort before some well earned beers in the evening (and the afternoon as it happened – but that’s another story that did not end too well for me !)

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Day 4 started at the Colonial Brewery and again talk on the line was that apart from the two singletrack sections – Middle Earth and the final section at the golf course just before the finish line at Dunsborough most of it was either fire track or road. The plan at the startline was to get into a group and work together on the long sections. This proved to be the best course of action and so I spent 2hrs and 40 minutes of balls out on the rivet bike riding – think criterium inner city road race interspersed with singletrack sections all on a mountain bike.

After 10km or so of this I soon realised that I was never going to get away from the group of 10 that I had hooked up with so I spent the whole time hanging on for dear life on the flats and cruising and dropping every one on the climbs – only to be caught up again to find myself hanging off the back. After a few sessions like this I decided to take it easier on the climbs and this made it easier to stay in the group for the remainder of the 65km stage.

Middle Earth Singletrack

The 6km of man made singletrack snaked through the forest and was just technical enough to make it interesting with little jumps / logs drops and berms. There were alse sections of singletrack climbs making it hard to get into a rhythm. I was in a pretty fast group trying to stay with the guy in front and trying to defend my position from behind. It certainly challenged me because of the speed at which I was hitting it.

Golf course Section

The last section of singletrack  was over a 4 km section and was tightly packed into a very small area. There were riders all around you but you could never tell how far ahead or behind they were. This section of singletrack – again man made – was beautifully built but because of the terrain had sharper rocks , pea gravel and bigger drops. By this time with only a kilometer of so to go I became very aware that I had nearly finished so took it a little more steady.

Andy came in about an hour down. His legs had finally gone at the 30km mark. Not being a mountain biker he had done extremely well to complete the 4 days.

It was a great 4 days of laid back Australian mountain biking and I would highly recommend it but make sure you are as fit as you can be.

Cape to Cape 2014 Stage 3

4 Nov

This was the best stage of the event. At the start line at the Xanadu Winery near Margaret River all the talk was on the singletrack section known as the Pines and how much fun it would be.

The 57km stage started with an 8km neutralised section through the town of Margaret River where we were greeted by a large crowd of supporters before darting into the Pines section where we then tackled 16 km of sweet flowing singletrack at full race pace. All the trails had Star Wars themes so we tackled The Phantom Menace, Return of the Jedi and Jedi Uphill to name but a few.

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The Pines Singletrack from my Strava file

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Once through the singletrack section we progressed on a mixture of fire roads / roads and through some extremely smelly creeks to the finish line at Colonial Brewery. The weather on day 3 turned for the worse and the last 15km were completed in the rain. I also had my only mechanical of the race when one of the bolts from my cleat came loose and finally fell out. I completed the last 10KM with only once clipped in foot and it made the ride a little more difficult but I still managed to stay in roughly the same position at the finish line.

Colonial Brewery

Colonial Brewery

No visit to the Colonial Brewery would be complete without a beer so our post ride carb loading consisted of a few !

Cape to Cape 2014 Stage 2

2 Nov

Stage 2 started in Hamelin Bay and made its way back to Margaret River and the interestingly named Xanadu Winery 57km away. We made the drive down from Margaret River to the start line for an 8AM start. After a brief pause for a minutes silence to a local cyclist who was killed earlier in the week the race was on and it was fast and furious up the first climb of approximately 5km.

Once at the top we hit the first real man made singletrack of the event back down towards the beach but this time thankfully we turned before reaching the beach and started climbing away again. More downs and ups followed before with about 10km to go we popped out in to the vineyards of the area and finally the Xanadu Winery. I came in with a small group of about 10 riders in about 2hrs 40 minutes very tired and wondering how I was going to cope for the next 2 day.

Looking back now I can not really say I remember to much about the stage but we were half way through it!

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One of the great thing about the events is the support. Andy had a broken chain at the start line and this was fixed very quickly before he set off. At the end there is a team of masseurs, and for a small charge they can sort out your aches and pains. I made use of this service on day 2 for a sore back.

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Check out stage one report here >>

Cape to Cape 2014 Stage 1

1 Nov

Andy and I recently competed in the Cape to Cape MTB race in Australia. Andy works for us at More Than 21 Bends on an ad hoc basis and is really an ultra marathon runner. This was his first mtb event. For me I had been training quite hard for this since August and this was my big event of the year.

We rocked up at the start line at Cape Leeuwin after a few days of aclimatising in Perth and a transfer to our base in Margaret River courtesy of Bikesure online slightly nervous but excited that the 4 day race was upon us.

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The first stage was a 41km affair and most talk from previous competitors was that this was one of the harder stages with a fair bit of climbing a lot of sandy trails and a 2 km beach section that was pretty much unrideable.  All proved to be correct!

After a delayed start due to the organisers letting everyone in to the start pen but not leaving any space for the elite riders we were off. My aim was to qualify as far up the field as possible as this then set the wave you started in for the next 3 stages.

Five minutes after the elite riders went we set off and it was fast and furious from the start. A longish climb spread the riders out and I found myself in the top 20 in my group before hitting the first long descent and climbs towards the dreaded beach sections. The first descent saw a few crashes including myself as my front wheel dug into the loose sand.

The highlight of the day was the beach section which as you popped out onto the beach looked like a scene from the Normandy beach landings except everyone was running with a bike.

2km later we were through the beach section and into more steep climbs and singletrack downhills finally finishing in Hamelin Bay.

I finished after approximately 2 hrs 20 mins in 139th and qualified in the black group with the elite boys and girls.

Andy arrived some 40 minutes later having enjoyed his first mountainbiking event. It was certainly a lot dirtier at the back as the photo below shows

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ROC D’AZUR 2014

13 Oct

This weekend we made the trip down to southern France to compete in the Roc d’Azur Mountain bike marathon my final preperation for the Cape to Cape 4 stage Mtb race in Perth Australia.

For those that have not heard of it the Roc d’Azure five day mountain bike festival is now in its 30th year and attracts over 20,000 competitors  from world champions such as Julian Absalon to weekend warriors like myself.

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I competed in the 83km marathon on the Friday with approximately 3000 other competitors. Due to my late entry I went out in the 3rd wave which proved rather frustrating as I soon  caught the back markers from the second wave and got stuck in a lot of the first 30 km of singletrack. Once through though  the singletrack was fantastic and challenging with some very steep sections with drops, rocks and routes. The climbs were either short and technical or long fire road grinds where I tended to overtake a lot of other people. With 2000 metres of vertical climbing and descending you were never on a flat section for long.

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The event itself was very well organised with feed stations every 10 km or so. With this in mind I did not bother with a backpack just a bottle a couple of bars and spare tube etc. The feed stations were well stocked with everything from energy bars to sandwiches and water to energy drink.

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Again I rode my P241 29er hard tail.  This time after running my front fork to soft in the Vercors challenge I decided to add more air. This was a great move allowing me to descend more confidently over the bigger stuff than before. I certainly felt I descended much  better and actually made up time on people in front.

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After six hours of riding I made it back to the start line still feeling I had more in the legs. Again a big improvement after the Vercors challenge.

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Next stop Perth Australia for the main event of the year.

Trans Vercors VTT Challenge

2 Sep

On Sunday I made the 2 hour trip from our base in Bourg d’Oisans into the heart of the Vercors just outside of Grenoble to compete in the 100km version of the Trans Vercors MTB challenge and with 3000 metres of climbing I knew it was going to be a challenge.

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The event is part of my build up to the Cape to Cape Perth Australia in October. Part of my training has seen me clock up 1250 km in August including the Les 2 Alpes Road Granfondo plus 3 down hill lift assited sessions as well as numerous mountain bike cross country sessiond

The event was superbly organised and gave me a chance to try out equipment setup and test myself physically.  I came away from the event after 7.5 hours in the saddle realising that I need to work more on technical descents,  work on upper body strength and be able to do a little running with the bike.

Next up is the Roc D’azure MTB marathon in October.

Cape to Cape Training day 2 technical training on Les Deux Alpes

22 Jun

Took my son Zac up to Les 2 Alpes for the opening weekend of the mountainbiking lift season for 2014. I felt slightly conspicuous with my short travel carbon prompt p241 29 er amongst all the long travel downhill bikes.

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I did at least wear a full face helmet / baggy shorts and body armour. 

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I soon found out the bike handled just fine and we were soon passing our longer travelled friends. The tight switchbacks were a little harder on the 29 er but the bike and myself handled them fine.

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It was also great following Zac down the trails. He has a real style now going airborne at every available moment.

Follow the test of my Cape to cape training and race blog here

Cape to cape training day 1

24 May

Blasted out 50km yesterday on my carbon prompt p241 29er yesterday. Most of my training miles will be conducted on the road as that is my day job but I will be doing as much off road riding as I can in preperation for October.

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First thoughts are I need to work on my upper body strength as road riding does nothing for this. I also need to find some technical trails to dial in my technique .

Back from the darkside my weapon of choice for the Australian Cape to Cape in October PROMPT P241

21 May

Until I moved out to France I pretty much exclusively mountain biked – indeed the Megavalanche first brought me out here in 2007 to compete.

Since then I have turned to the darkside – roadriding. This summer though I have built up a new cross country carbon 29er to train on and to finally compete on in the Cape to Cape 4 day stage race just outside Perth , Australia. I will be staying with our friends at BikeSure. Indeed the managing director himself will be helping out on the support crew. Beer anyone ?

Over the last few years there have been so many different mountain bike standards brought in (axle types / headsets / wheel sizes etc) that it has taken me a while to complete the bike build. Today I finally finished it.

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Follow phil’s adventures as he trains and competes in the event here >>